Some nine years ago I wrote a post at the Notion Club Papers blog, in which I speculated on what might be the truth behind the greatest mystery of CS Lewis's life, and a subject on which he maintained (apparently) absolute secrecy: the nature and basis of his decades long relationship with Mrs Janie Moore.
Just last week, and some 58 years after Lewis died, the mystery has 'officially' been solved in public, with the publication of an interview from the late Walter Hooper (CSL's literary executor, who died a year ago). I have lightly edited the passage, for clarity:
My knowledge of this comes from Owen Barfield almost entirely. Owen Barfield told me that yes, Lewis told him there had been a sexual relationship and it began really at the time, right after he came out of the army [c1918].
[Lewis], as he himself has said about himself he was not a moral man at that time. He believed in morality, he believed in goodness, but anyway, he–they did have an affair. And it lasted until Lewis was converted to Christianity [c1931].
Lewis told Owen Barfield that part of his reparation for all of that took the form of, first of all he stopped having the sexual relationship with Mrs. Moore as soon as he was converted to Christianity, and he thought that his penance should be and was looking after that lady for the rest of his life.
I can’t imagine him getting rid of Mrs. Moore. But you can see that this is part of his penance, and I think that penance went as far as he could, right up until he visited her everyday even in the nursing home.
This pretty much confirms what I had guessed from contextual evidence:
I believe that what happened was that the relationship between Lewis and Minto was initially sexual (this is now generally accepted), but when this ceased (the time and reasons for which are not known, but was almost certainly before or at the time Lewis gradually became a Christian around 1929-31), Lewis felt he had done Minto a great wrong. At this time, I strongly suspect that Lewis made a vow to do service to Minto for the rest of his life, as a penance for the wrongdoing. I suspect that this was a private matter and that he told nobody - but for the rest of his life he stuck to this penance, and that this is what explained the extraordinary servility of the relationship between Jack and Minto for the last 20 or so years.